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Monday, March 25, 2013

Selfless giving. It may be the aspect of “True Love” that is one of the hardest of all for us to consistently attain in marriage. Yet without a doubt, it is one of the biggest keys to building a strong, lasting and delightful marriage.

With the “True Love” series we are examining the many dimension of love expressed to us in the person of Jesus Christ. There are countless verses that describe the selfless nature of Christ's love, but here is one of my favorites:
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions… For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.
Ephesians 2:4-5, 9
Even though we were hopelessly lost, totally messed up, and mired in our sin, God’s great love came to us as a free gift in the form of His Son Jesus, to save us.

He doesn’t wait until we get our act together or until we start behaving ourselves. No His love reaches out to us right where we are. He pursues us relentlessly (see my last post), even though we were dead in our sins, in order to redeem us unto Himself and have us for his very own.  Forever.

Give Gifts not Favors

There is a subtle difference between a gift and a favor. A gift is freely given, without the expectation of something in return. A favor, on the other hand, is given with strings attached. I’ll do for you if you do for me.

In marriage favors come with agendas and expectations. It might be the hope of getting something we want.  It might be the goal of changing our spouse to be how we want them to be. It might be to control or manipulate.

Marriage is the place for gifts, freely given, out of love, without precondition or the expectation of something in return. That’s Jesus’ example to us.

Yes, it’s true that when we serve and bless and meet the needs of our spouses, they will tend to respond in kind. But beware going in with a “give-to-get” mentality in your giving. Such a self-serving approach is not sustainable and it sets you and your spouse up for disappointment and failure.

Discover the Joy of Selfless Giving

There is great joy to be found when we learn to genuinely embrace giving simply out of love. The Bible tells us that “for the joy set before him, Jesus endured the cross.” I believe that joy was found in the intimacy he would gain with us through his unconditional, sacrificial gift.

When we can empty ourselves of our agendas and expectations and show love in ways that we know will bless our husband or wife, we discover the pure, deep joy found in delighting each other – and we discover a wide path to intimacy.

Put Away the Scorecards

I know it’s really tempting to keep score on who is giving more. Of course we will always tend to score things in our favor, don’t we? But regardless, I’m not just asking you to score fairly or even in your spouse’s favor. I’m asking you to throw out the scorecard altogether!

Yeah, it’s radical. Yeah, it’s hard. But truthfully, that is the way we are called to live and love – without scorecards.

Are you ready to toss out the scorecards and to begin to live a life of lavish love – love without conditions? Can you think of one thing you can do this week for your husband or wife that you can give without expecting something in return?

Think of it.  Then take joy in doing it!  

photo credit: dirkercken / 123rf.com


3 comments:

Nancy Lehman said...

Adjunct thought:

There is a quiet,
intimate,
shared joy,
in giving together,
to others.
This has taken time to “work out jointly”.
We had to grow first, in our ability to understand how the other prefers to give –
my husband delights in giving to gospel causes and “good news spreading people”
whereas, I yearn to give to those in my immediate circle who may be in need.
We had to learn to accept and then embrace these differences.
Once that was more deeply ingrained in us,
we were then freed up to work together in our giving.
We now honor each other in how we go about giving.
And it certainly bonds us together
in yet one more way
that brings us great delight,
not only in the giving
but also in each other.

This is one of the embodiments of what you have written about:

DiscoverING the Joy of Selfless Giving

“When we can empty ourselves of our agendas and expectations and show love in ways that we know will bless our husband or wife, we discover the pure, deep joy found in delighting each other – and we discover a wide path to intimacy.”

upwithmarriage said...

This was SOOOO great Scott!!! The thing that struck me was that Christ doesn't have a scorecard with the church does He?! And since our marriages are to emulate this paradigm - husbands and wives shouldn't have them either.

Scott said...

Nancy - thanks for also pointing out the joy of giving together to others. Yes indeed!

Robyn, you are exactly right about Christ not keeping score! Grace is wonderful isn't it?

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